World-breaking Record for Cancer Charity
- Hockey players from the world’s longest hockey game in Alberta, Canada broke their own Guinness Book of World Records after a 252-hour match, raising funds for a clinical trial for cancer, over the course of 11 days playing in sub-zero temps.
- An eye doctor for the Edmonton Oilers, Brent Saik, 52, is the mastermind behind the World’s Longest Games organization. He started the charity in 2003 to carry on his father Terry’s wish after losing his fight with colon cancer. Brent later lost his wife Susan to brain cancer after the organization’s first inaugural game and continues to break records in honor of his family.
One of the event’s organizers, Kate Gallagher, told the Canadian Press that their seventh game (the first was in 2003), beat it’s $1.5 million goal at $1.8 million and counting to benefit cancer research and clinical trials at the University of Alberta, at the Cross Cancer Institute. “The players were troopers. They were warriors,” Gallagher said.
Needless to say, the hockey equipment suffered more wear and tear than usual, especially from the cold, and a shattered puck has even gone viral, and is up for auction, along with a pink goalie stick, jersey, and helmet.
It’s so cold that the pucks keep shattering at #WorldsLongestGame. Pic by goalie Andrew Buchanan. If you can, please donate at https://t.co/Et56u7w1DQ and help them reach (and break) their previous fundraising records. pic.twitter.com/TuMmFDT5OX
— Alex (@Lakoustic) February 9, 2021
One of the players, Goalie Andrew Buchanan, a firefighter and paramedic, described the extreme temps that they endured all for charity. “It’s all for cancer.” He describes how the guys were on the ice playing for six, eight, 10 hours at a time, “and then you just want to get some warm sleep … That’s not the case when it’s -54 C with the wind chill. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Buchanan said to the publication, also mentioning that the players were sleeping in trailers on the property, but the furnaces couldn’t keep up with the cold.
The organization thanked the players for their incredible efforts on their Instagram page. “THANK YOU to the incredible organizers, fans, volunteers, partners, donors, and of course, the Players and their families,” the post reads. “You have given the greatest gift of all to cancer patients: more time with their families, friends and loved ones. Real people. Real impact. Real Lives saved. And it’s all thanks to you.”
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A Man’s Mission After Cancer Loss
Organizer of the World’s Longest Games, optometrist Brent Saik (eye doc to the Edmonton Oilers, some of whom stopped by to check out the marathon game), started the incredible charity after losing his father Terry Saik to colon cancer, and later, he lost his wife Susan to brain cancer after the first inaugural “Longest Game,” according to the organization’s website. It was Terry’s wish for his son to keep up the family’s charitable efforts, and his son is following through on his wishes to the highest extent, while fighting for his wife and all of the other families affected by cancer.
“As we were setting it up for that game in 2003, for an 82-hour try at that record, my wife Susan got diagnosed with cancer and just a few months after we played the game, she died,” Saik had said to NHL.com in 2018. “I still can’t tell the story without crying.”
Luckily, Saik has found love again with wife Janelle, and they share one son, Jesse, 8.
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The game took place at “Saiker’s Acres,” named after the event and property owner’s last name, “Saik.” The eye doctor spoke with a local Sherwood Park community news site before a game back in 2013 about the preparation that goes into something like this. “It takes a while to get ready for one of these things, both physically and mentally,” Saik had said. “We’re hoping to make it even bigger and better.” And he sure did, breaking another world record for the Guinness Book, which was last awarded to Saik(and 39 friends aka his teammates) in 2018 for “the longest marathon playing ice hockey.” The organization throws this event every three years.
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Raising Funds for a Clinical Trial
According to the University of Alberta’s website, “funds from this year’s marathon game will help bolster a clinical trial for a precision cancer drug discovered by University of Alberta cell biologist Luc Berthiaume.”
The PCLX-001 drug “has shown positive results against breast, lung, bladder and pancreas cancers. Current studies show it has the greatest effect in blood cancers resistant to standard treatment by shutting down abnormal chemical signaling in many common cancers and triggering those cells to die, while sparing the normal, healthy cells.”
SurvivorNet previously spoke with Dr. Beth Karlan from the UCLA Medical Center about the importance of clinical trials. “Clinical trials hopefully can benefit you,” she said, but they are also “providing very, very vital information to the whole scientific community about the effectiveness of these treatments. They can be lifesaving.”
Dr. Karlan has seen miraculous results in recent years from children and adults participating in trials. “We need everyone to be partners with us, if we’re ever going to truly cure cancer, or prevent people from having to die from cancer.”
Cancer in the Family
If there is cancer in your family, looking into genetic testing, regardless of the type, can be worth it to stay ahead of the game, and know what sort of options or advancements may or may not be out there. Amy Louise Armstrong, a breast cancer survivor who was also challenged with stomach cancer, shared her journey with SurvivorNet.
Armstrong’s family decided to do genetic testing and her mother found out that she had a very rare stomach cancer gene called CDH1. “If you have this gene, not only is it incredibly rare, but you’re also confronted to making a pretty big decision to avoid getting stomach cancer,” she said. “You have to have a prophylactic gastrectomy,” which is removal of the stomach. “When my mom found out that she had the gene, it had a domino effect for, not only her siblings to be tested for the gene, but also her children. And three out of four of us, my siblings, tested positive for the gene.”
Armstrong went on to explain that CDH1 is a dominant gene, which means every single person has a 50-50 shot of having it. “When I found out about having the gene, I was angry, terrified. At 35 years old, I didn’t think that I would have to be confronted with something such as a great decision to get your stomach removed.” Armstrong got through it and said that she felt “fabulous,” both mentally and physically, two years later.